LITERARIOBICS | The Plague — The Metaphor is Dead

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The Plague: The Metaphor is Dead was written by Dr Jernail Singh Anand and reviewed by Dr Harish Narang.

An epical satire on modern life of computer consciousness and artificial intelligence. The poet in this epic in the Greek tradition interrogates the conditions responsible for the Plague…the pandemic we are facing, and charges mankind with having too much of Creative Intelligence, but lacking in Imaginative Intelligence

Adversity they say brings out the best among the people. And it brings out ‘better’ than the best among writers . And the ‘bestest’ among the poets.

And what worse adversity could have befallen us human than the Corona Virus Pandemic 2020 which has taken a toll of nearly 1000000 world wide and has ground almost all activities-social, economic, cultural -to a grinding halt.

And for us in India, it has been a double whammy, what with the national economy and socio-political freedom hurtling down during the last couple of years. No doubt, then, that it has brought out significant discourses by writers in most Indian Languages in various genres of writing.

The Plague-The Metaphor is Dead by Jarnail Singh Anand is perhaps the latest among them. And a significant discourse at that.

Divided into XIII Cantos preceded by an Invocation and Followed by an Epilogue, it is an Epic in the classical Greek mode- or shall I say the Greek mould.

The book cover

In an age where everything is in a mini mode-made ‘minier’ by the Corona Pandemic, the choice by the author to write a ‘maxi’-an Epic- is surprising. But then, this is one of the many other ‘surprises’ that Jarnail Singh Anand springs on his readers.

uWhile the ongoing Pandemic and its predecessor, The Spanish Flu, over a hundred years ago, are still fresh in the lives and memory of many- there are some who survived both and are still around- the author has chosen to go back to the Plague of the fourteenth century Europe and to Albert Camus’ discourse The Plague. And, to me, for very valid reasons. The Spanish Flu killed millions and so has the current Pandemic- and it is not done yet. But neither of them could become a metaphor for death which goes much beyond the physical act of dying.

The Plague of Europe of the Middle Ages became that metaphor, implicating not just physical deaths but moral death as well. Hence the choice by the writer to title his discourse The Plague, invoking-intratextually- The discourse by Camus.

Through the mode of an epic narration, the author narrates the story of a tyrant King Cosmo of the Kingdom of Retalia–it is not difficult to find many real life Cosmo-s around-and his misdeeds through the dialogues and observations by Chorus, Babble, Sage, Trutho, Vision etc.

The focus is on this new plague-Corona Virus- that brings out not just the physical ailments but the moral decadence and sclerosis of human nature. Hope is a character in the narrative who is hounded by the police and is finally reported dead.

In over 150 pages of sustained and pithy writing and deft mixing of myths from many societies, Jarnail Singh Anand tells the story of not only contemporary India but of many similar nations although he claims, as is customary, that this is a piece of fiction with no resemblance to any living characters or place.

Jarnail Singh knows how to formulate a proposition effectively in English- something not many Indian writers possess despite there being lakhs of them writing and publishing today.

Here is a sample

There was a universe which gods controlled.
Here is a miniverse on which
Men have their sovereign control
Some amnesiac once remarked
Man is the master of his destiny.
Since then, all woman-born presume they are the masters of the universe (p.25)

While Hope the character in the narrative is dead, the author cannot leave his Epic in a state of Hoplessness. The curtain comes down with The God observing:

Hope O men, never dies.

Nor is the Metaphor Dead, as is claimed by the author in the sub-title.

An excellent discourse that I recommend to the Readers wholeheartedly.

Dr. Harish Narang,
Former Professor and Chair
Dept of English
Jawahar Lal Nehru Univ.
New Delhi.

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1 Comment
  1. Cijo Joseph Chennelil says

    Dear Jernail Sir,

    Your monumental work titled “Literarcobics The Plague-The Metaphor is Dead” is a work of exquisite pedigree shedding light upon the present pandemic ravaging the world plunging it into a state of economic,social,ethical,moral and psychological traumatic situations or turmoils.The need to envisage a world of imaginative intelligence rather than a world of engineered intelligence is overemphasized and given adequate importance in this work.This book does have all the ingredients in it such as the holistic way of approaching life,the futuristic vision of a world of vitality and strength,the usage of the past incidents of the same category to drive home to us the present crisis the world is confronted at the moment,the application of intertextuality,the comprehensive way of looking at this pandemic from multiple perspectives and angles,the unsustainable ways and means of this world and them as a causative factor in relation to the outbreak of this pandemic,the degenerative state of affairs prevailing in this world and the description about a world in free fall owing to the internal contradictions existing within it which are the results of its own making.Dr.Jernail Anand Sir has become one of the formidable voices today in the field Indian Writing in English as well as in the World Literature.His novel style of writing apart from the maddening crowd is the most focal dexterity of him and this refreshing approach sets him a cut above the rest.Kudos,Dear Jernail Sir for such a realistic and aesthetic literary creation.

    Cijo Joseph Chennelil
    Kuravilangad 2020@

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